A year ago, San Jose Earthquakes Under-18 Academy star, Jesus “Jesse” Morales, would only have dreamed about sharing the field with members of the Earthquakes’ first team. Yet, the precociously talented 18-year-old attacking midfielder has achieved just that in whirlwind of a year that has seen him star for both the Earthquakes Academy team and the Earthquakes Reserves.
A native of Livermore, Calif. and a senior at Livermore High School, Morales has guided the Under-18 Earthquakes Academy to a perfect 3-0-0 record during the early part of the season. Morales typically acts as the focal point for the Quakes’ prolific goal-scoring attack. The midfielder was instrumental in a recent 5-0 victory over Clovis rivals, Cal Odyssey - Morales set the pace of the game and contributed the third goal.
Morales’ talent has not slipped unnoticed by the Earthquakes’ coaching staff. Per discussions between the Academy coaching staff and the Earthquakes’ front office, Morales got his chance with San Jose’s reserve team this past summer. Morales made four consecutive appearances for the Quakes; a team composed of first team members, guest players, and, on occasion, invited academy players. Morales was the youngest player on the field in every appearance.
“It was a great feeling. It was a great opportunity for young guys like me to be placed in that professional situation. The fans were very supportive,” Morales said.
Morales made his Reserve League debut against the Seattle Sounders on Aug. 12.
“The game was physical and quick, and the players were a lot bigger than what I’m used to in the Academy games. Everyone communicated very well and I looked up to a lot of them during the game,” Morales said.
The Earthquakes Reserve match against the Vancouver Whitecaps saw Morales earn not only his first start but also net the game-winning goal in a 2-1 Earthquakes victory. With the game tied at 1-1 in the 75th minute, Morales opportunistically took advantage of Whitecaps goalkeeper Brian Sylvestre’s mistake. Sylvestre was unable to control a loose ball that fell perfectly for the unguarded Morales. Morales took his chance and netted the decisive score.
“I saw the goalkeeper coming. The ball slid out of his hands in front of me. I was fortunate to be there, shot it, and was happy to lead the team to the win,” noted Morales.
With his young career on the ascendancy, Morales hopes to keep progressing in an Earthquakes uniform and one day suit up at Buck Shaw Stadium.
“I hope to make it to continue working and make it to the First team as well as attend college to get my degree,” says Morales.